I recently reviewed the Castle revival set 40601 Majisto’s Magical Workshop, available as a gift with purchase over the Insiders weekend as well as the upcoming Black Friday sales event at LEGO.com. With a buy in of US$250 / AU$400 / £220 / €250 / CAD$330, it has received some criticism from the point of ‘cost of ownership’ as well as the fact that perhaps some of the elements that defined the look of the Dragon Knights were no longer available – particularly the distinctive halberd, plumes and helmet. There were some elements that could have beeen printed, such as Majisto’s torso, and the addition of the Dragon Knight’s shield.
I accept that there are reasons for these elements not being included…
The Challenges posed by Gifts With Purchase
Gifts with purchase(GWP) are great. Bonus LEGO sets, just for buying LEGO sets. Unfortunately, in recent years the buy in price for some of these sets, especially those with a high level of nostalgic appeal to Legacy AFOLs, has become a littlemore than we might like to pay. In the case of 40601 Majisto’s Magical Workshop, a tribute to one of the first Dragon Knights set released 30 years ago, fans need to spend over $AUD400/$USD250 to qualify for the set.
Another challenge with GWP sets are limitations place on their design. GWPs are produced by the Extended Line department. While producing GWPs, seasonal sets and more, sets from the extended line team are restricted to elements that have been released, although, new colouring might occaissionally be available, including printed torsos. But new moulds cannot be introduced for their sets. In 40601, amongst other things, we saw the return of Dark Stone Grey castle balconies, after an absence of around 10 years, and the spectacular new torso for the Dragon Knight. but we were not able to see a releaunch of some of the elements that defined the look of the theme: the Dragon Knights’ helmet, the Dragon Plume set and the impressive Halberd.
And then there is, of course, the issue of cost: development of the set, the number of elements included, prints and stickers, min figures. As with most LEGO sets, there are multiple tradeoffs to be made. Someone working within the company might suggest it has something to do with the number of Frames you have available to work with.
So… let’s take another look at the minifigures: I’m setting my goal, in part, to be something I can achieve with my resources at hand, or something that can be achieved within the limits of Gift with Purchases set design: current element shapes (not necessarily restricted to Pick a brick), but recolouring and/or printing might be required.
The wizard Majisto was introduced 30 years ago, this year. With a simple printed torso, showing a pounch and belt he dominates the Dragon Knights as the sole recurring ‘non-knight character. Some versions also came with a small black solid cape element. In the mean time, there have been multiple Blue Wizards introduced, each building on the previous. This version of Majisto is very similar to that seen in 10305 Lion Knight’s Castle, released in 2022. This was somewhat controversial, as the upper torso is blank, as is the lower body element. At least in that set, Majisto had a basket on his back. To rub salt in the wound, one of the peasants had an almost identical torsp print to the original Majisto, albeit printed on a sand green body. In between, we saw a blue wizard appearing in the Collectable Minifigures. I feel that the stars on his hat and cape give the impression of him being a stage magician, rather than a true Wizard. this is just sour grapes, as I failed to secure a copy.
In the mean time, the Build-A-Minifigure stations at LEGO Store have had a ‘slightly flashy’ wizard available from year to year. I do find myself wondering if his exotic body print might be what we need to improve our figure, and produce the Ultimate Majisto. If you live in Australia, you can(at the time of writing) order this figure as part of a three pack from the AG LEGO Certified Store. Follow this link for more. While I appreciate the body prints, I feel the crumpled hat is a little cartoon like for Majisto, and the grey hair attached feels a little too dark, compared to the white beard.
Adding the ‘Traditional Majisto Print; should be simple enough, allowing a recolour of the peasant base torso.Here is a mock up, using the original Majisto torso, with the new head, beard and leg elements. While I think he looks pretty schmik, I would prefer to upgrade my minifigures using freely available elements. This might have almost been the the perfect version. But I wonder if there are other ways we can improve on our simple Majisto?
The Simplest Upgrade:
So, here is a simple upgrade you can do with little effort. You probably already own the necessary element.
If you want to upgrade your figure with just one piece, I recommend adding a cape. I started with a black cape (Darth Vader, Wicked Witch of the west and more). I then wondered if perhaps a dark blue cape might work a little better: I took one from the series 24 (2023) Collectable mini figure ‘Falconer.’ Lets look at both of them: which is your favourite?
I think they both work well, but I personally prefer the dark blue on the right. This is just me. The black is far more available, appearing in multiple places including Pick-a-Brick online.(individual market availablility may vary), and perhaps fits the colour scheme of the set a little better than dark blue.
The more complicated upgrade
Can we find a torso with the necessary printing? Let’s take a quick look at the BAM Wizard:
Personally, I think I prefer the BAM legs and torso, for their level of detail. The belt, key and pouch. However, the hat and hair element feel just a little more cartoonish than I am trying to achieve with this figure..
So lets put him together with the BAM body, new face and beard, as well as the classic hat. I’ll opt for the dark blue cape
There’s the wizard we could have had: all of these parts have been available in 2023 in some way or another.
The Dragon Knight
I don’t own the exact Dragon Knight that originally came with this set. He had blue plumes. I do have one with the full gamut of red plumes around the house, and here he is, with his characteristic halberd, along with the Dragon Knight we get with the new set,40601:
Lets start off by updating her weapon to look a bit more like that we were used to…I took one of the spears from the roof of the house, and added an axe head to the stave.
Perhaps not quite as intimidating as the one carried by her predecessor, but at this stage, there is no dragon for her to keep at bay. It is put together from elements included in the set, which makes it just that little more of a bonus.
Now – the thing that really bugs me about the revised figure is the helmet. The silver metallic colour just didn’t feel right to me. Let’s take a look at the helmets in use by the Dragon Knights back in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, the chinstrap and decorative Dragon Knight helmets have been discontinued for many years.The Neck protector helmet from 1978 is still available in black! There is a small problem with this helmet: in conjunction with the pauldrons…it doesnt actually fit.
Let’s look at the other helmets currently available (in whatever colour): the grillefaced helmet has appeared in black in days gone past; a slotted helmet has appeared in Dreamzzz, and while the dragon knight helmet has been discontinued, its worth seeing what we are missing out on.
Again, the simplest upgrade to do to this set would be to find a black grilled helmet. Black has not been available since time cruisers in 1996, however. It provides good facial detail and allows for a plume. I reckon I would have been pretty happy if this was the included option. Given that the mould is still in play, I would like to think that a black recolour would be possible. The dragon knight’s helmet is terrific, but the moulds for the helmet and plumes have been long retired.(feel free to use any you already have though).
I took a look outside the range of Castle helmets, to see if I could find another than might combine the silhuotte of the original helmet, partially covering the face and coming in black. I found such a thing in Ninjago. Such a shame it doesnt accomodate plumes.
I am of course referring to the helmet worn by the Imperium Claw General in the 2023 Ninjago Dragons Rising sets. Present in 71790, 71794 and 71798, this helmet looks like it conveys a serious mood, and I suspect that even a castle based dragon might think twice before causing any angst. I recognise that a simple substitution by the LEGO Group would have been inappropriate for this Dragon Knight. I reckon it will work happily in the comfort of my living room.
Here’s the final effect…
Actually, when you compare it with the original Dragon Knights weapon, this simple spear and axehead recreation looks pretty insipid.At least I made it with pieces included in the set. Perhaps if we take a 6 module long bar, and extend it as a spear, as was seen in the Avatar sets, using a lightsaber handle and the creatively named ‘blade number 10,’ while attaching the axe head to the top of the shaft? Another option might be to put handle over the lower end of the spear, as used in the Medieval Blacksmith set from LEGO IDEAs.I probably prefer this option.
What do you think? Does she look complete, or does she need a shield? The battle shield (design 2586) is a current mould, used earlier this year to produce the 40646 daffodils! As such, I feel the original shield, or one with updated livery, could have been easily used (of course – easily is a term with varying meanings, depending on who is paying for it!)
It would not have taken much to improve 40601 Majisto’s Magical Workshop from being a pretty reasonable GWP to an excellent one, and one of the ways to achieve this was though simple customising of the minifigures, using preexisting elements, already in the parts palette, as well as adding in a printed shield (which would be likely to to require additional Graphic design work.)
To make it splendid, we might have expected additional decoration to the Wizard’s clothes, as seen in the BAM Figure, as well as given the Dragon Knight a printed shield and enhanced halberd. That said, I think I can live without the shield. For Now!
There are restrictions that apply when designing sets as GWPs, which mean that, as fans, we cannot expect to see our wildest dreams entertained when childhood themes are revived in these sets. There is of course nothing to stop you changing to your minifigures to be the characters you want them to be, rather than the ones that come out of the packet.
I was suitably impressed by the improvement seen through adding a cape to Majisto, and merely changing the helmet that the Dragon Knight is wearing, either a simple colour change, or looking throughout the LEGO portfolio to see if other themes have already developed suitable parts to use. Further improvements such as adding a printed shield might require significantly more work during the set’s development. but would certainly provide some delightful garnish in the setting of a beautifully reimagined torso.
Don’t be afraid to play with your LEGO and bump up the quality of your purchased products: It can be easier than you expect.
What do you think of the way I approached this problem? How would you update the figures? Why not leave your comments below.
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NOTE: 40601 Majisto’s Magical Workshop was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. opinions are my own. Upgrading elements have come from all sorts of sources…